Boudoir accessories for milady's boudoir have always been the most fascinating, as well as the most numerous, small hollowware items available to collectors. From small beginnings in the late 1860's,by the mid-1879's all sorts of accessories to delight the feminine eye were made by the manufacturers of silver plate.
Silverplate dresser vanity sets of comb, brushes, hand mirror and related hollowware pieces do not appear in the earliest catalogs. Combs and brushes with silver plate handles and backs appeared in the 1800's in a limited number of designs.
One of the most popular items made in silverplate, "Dinner Castors" as they were identified in old catalogs of silver manufacturers, most surely were derived from the cruet frames made for the reception of glass cruets for holding oil and vinegar and other condiments for use at the table. These date from the beginning of the eighteenth century in English silver.
Cruet frames were made in this country from about 1750 on-ward. They were also made in England in "Old Sheffield Plate". In the 1830's the first castor frames were produced by Britannia makers but it was not until around the 1840's that they became an important article in the Britannia trade.
Early castors in silverplate were mainly set on low legs or on a relatively low center pedestal. A wide pierced band, or one embellished with ornate clusters of grapes and leaves, encircled the base of the container. A center handle was used for passing castor at the table. Most castors provided space for six bottles.
Pickle castors are in great demand among those interested in late 19th century silver. Most examples are electroplated and have glass containers. Pickle casters were specifically designed to contain and dispense pickles, pickle casters were derived from the caster sets used on American tables since the 18th century. By the 1900's, when the form reached the zenith of its popularity, examples were produced incorporating a wealth of fanciful decoration.
For centuries, condiments were necessary because of the lack of refrigeration. Even when used expediently, meat sometimes had begun to spoil by the time it reached the dinner table. Spices, vinegars and oils were used to hid the pungency of the spoiling meat. In addition, salt and pepper on food were an absolute necessity at the Victorian table. Abe offers an array of antique silver plate items made for serving these condiments, ranging from fabulous silverplated cruet sets to various salt and pepper receptacles.
The basic condiment set began with salt and pepper servers. Next, a mustard jar would be added. Other containers, called cruets, were then added in various sizes. These were generally used for a variety of vinegars and oils. Another serving piece was the muffineer, a caster that held sugar or any other condiment meant to be sprinkled onto foods.
Salt was usually served in open containers, sometimes referred to as a salt cellar or salt stand. Some salt containers had glass liners to help prevent the corrosion that begins when silver and salt come in contact with each other.
Mustard was an important condiment, warranting its own server. At the time that mustard pots were in favor (probably from the 1840s on), dry mustard powder was mixed with water to make a mustard paste, as prepared mustard in its modern glass or plastic jar was not yet available until the early 1900s. Mustard is extremely corrosive to sterling and silverplate, causing a chemical reaction which results in heavy discoloration of the silver. Many mustard pots have glass liners to prevent this. Gold can also be used to provide a barrier. Many old mustard ladles were gold-washed on the lower portion where the silver would have touched the mustard.
Ronson Lighters: Ronson has a long and illustrious history of producing high quality cigar and cigarette lighters as well as stylish smoking accessories and figural items for home, office and commercial use. The Company was created by Louis V. Aronson in 1886, and first opened in New York City. The following year it moved to Newark N.J. to stay and today it is in Somerset, N.J.
Ronson produced Table Top lighters of one form or another from about 1910’s to the mid 1970's. Ronson produced many lighters that are rarely seen outside of large lighter collections. Many of these lighters were very attractive in their day and are greatly admired today, not only for their design but for what they represent about our American history. It is still not fully understood why Ronson produced such low numbers of certain lighter models apart from the models being designed at the onset of World War II, which were scrapped. Still there are many other models, which were produced prior to the war with very low known production numbers. Lighters in this category range from common to the virtually unknown, as far as current numbers are concerned.